In Ecclesiastes 12, we find Solomon bringing this book to a close. While Proverbs is often called the book of wisdom, Ecclesiastes might be called the book of foolishness. There is much to learn from both books and we must always remember that God’s word is sufficient, without the need to add more (2 Corinthians 3:4).
We will spend our entire lives remembering things, but it’s crucial that we keep at the front of our minds that God the creator fashioned us individually. When speaking on Mars Hill, Paul doesn’t start with the cross of Christ, but with the creation. After that, he proceeds to the gospel of Christ. While it’s easy to forget so many things, let us never forget that the creator God has come to us in the Lord Jesus Christ (see Acts 17:24-26).
Solomon also reminds us that life is short and doesn’t go on forever. It’s difficult to envision as a youth, but we must take the words of James to heart when he writes that “life is but a vapor, here for a little while” (James 4:14). We must capture opportunities while we can for our days are but a few.
Solomon continues in the final chapter of Ecclesiastes describing the reality of growing old. Arms and hands become shaky, legs are no longer upright, teeth are missing. The eyes have grown dim, deafness has set in, and many have insomnia. Yet this same person who can’t hear a phone ring, is awakened by the singing of birds. He continues with a fear of heights, hair turned white, desire lost, and ultimately to eternal rest.
The frailty of life is seen in the beautifully-fashioned golden lamp suspended by the silver chain. With one snap, the chain can so easily break, the fragile life comes to an end. I don’t believe Solomon is attempting to be morbid; earlier in his book he states that it’s better to go to a house of mourning than into the feast of fools (Ecclesiastes 7:2-6). At the feast, there is nothing but the superficial and fake — vanity. However, as people gather to mourn, we can’t help but think seriously about things, to refocus our lives. Have you ever left a funeral home and not felt closer to God?
As we all look towards the end of our days, let us consider the words of Jesus, “What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul?” (Mark 8:36). Remember then to seize the opportunities that are before you now.
Throughout this book Solomon has gone down a number of streets, only to see that all but one is a dead end. It’s easy to go down the avenue of worldly wisdom in hope of finding something wonderful, only to realize it’s elusive. It’s sad that on college campuses, the students most likely to commit suicide are the top achievers academically, not the one’s barely getting through. Why? While there is surely not one simple answer, could it be that some begin to see the futility of worldly academia? That’s not to say school has no place, but it must always be understood that in the big picture God’s wisdom is the true wisdom.
As all these streets are traveled, the brevity and futility of them become apparent. So Solomon reminds us that God will bring every deed into judgment (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14). And that’s where Paul goes in Athens as well, doesn’t he? That God “has appointed a day when he will judge the world, and he has given proof of this by raising Jesus from the dead” (Acts 17:30-31) .
All of these facts are not to drive us to despair. What are you going to do with this wonderful life of yours that God has given you? Your life is powerful. It’s passing. It’s purposeful. And the Bible always speaks in the present tense. It always speaks about now—offering our lives to God now.